Monday, December 18, 2017
Politics

Rep. Cummings: 'No idea why Trump would make up a story about me like he did'

WASHINGTON — Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland swatted away President Donald Trump's claim that the Democrat wouldn't meet with him after repeated calls from the White House.

Trump made the comment during a wide-ranging news conference Thursday and speculated that Cummings may have been dissuaded from coming to the White House for political reasons, perhaps by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whom Trump dismissed as a "lightweight."

"I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today. Of course, Senator Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the President," Cummings said in a statement Thursday.

Trump said Cummings "was all excited and then he said, 'Oh, I can't move, it might be bad for me politically. I can't have that meeting.' "

Trump continued: "But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that — some other lightweight —- he was probably told, 'Don't meet with Trump. It's bad politics.' And that's part of the problem with this country."

The musings came in response to a question about whether Trump would meet with the Congressional Black Caucus — of which Cummings is a high-profile member — to discuss inner-city crime.

The 11-term congressman from Baltimore and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he planned to talk to Trump about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.

But first, he said, he wanted to finalize a proposal he's working on with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices — a concept that Cummings says Trump has supported.

"I also sincerely have no idea why the President made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus. I am sure members of the CBC can answer these questions for themselves," the congressman's statement said.

Shortly after the news conference, the Congressional Black Caucus tweeted at Trump, who apparently didn't recognize the acronym for the group, saying in part: "We're the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad!"

Cummings ended his statement by saying he looks forward to meeting with Trump and others to talk about prescription drugs, which affect "every American family — not just people of color."

Minutes after news conference concluded, the oversight committee announced that Cummings had joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other Democrats in calling for a review of how Trump and his staff handled sensitive national security materials at Mar-o-Lago. Trump has called the Palm Beach club his "Winter White House."

In a letter, the lawmakers asked the Government Accountability Office to determine if protocols were followed and to provide as an accounting of taxpayer costs related to Trump's stay at his private club.

Cummings was Hillary Clinton's chief defender against Republicans during their probe into the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

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